Numsa, employers to meet

Auto workers are demanding a 10 percent wage increase for three consecutive years.

FILE: Striking NUMSA members march in Randburg on Monday 9 September 2013. They are seeking a double-digit wage increase. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and employers will meet on Friday afternoon.

Retail Motor Industry chief executive Jakkie Olivier on Thursday said management had offered to raise salaries by 10 percent in the first year and 8 percent in the following two years.

But workers affiliated to the union rejected the latest hike offer.

The union is demanding a 10 percent wage increase for three consecutive years and says it's considering drastic measures to force employers into an agreement.

Workers have been on strike for over a month.

The Numsa strike has forced all seven major car manufacturers in South Africa to halt production, costing the economy an estimated R600 million a day.

Numsa's Karl Cloete said, "The employer does not meet double-digits [figures] in year two and year three, despite the 10 percent offer in the first year.

"Of course the peace clause and implementation date of the agreement is a critical matter."

The union said the automotive industry cannot use strong-arm tactics in order for members to call off the strike.

Cloete said, "The analysts and employers refused to look at the poverty [facing workers]. We have not changed an inch from the apartheid labour market in the motor industry and therefore we refuse to accept any blame."

Numsa is also calling for better shift allowances.

The comments come as concerns mount about the impact of the strike on the economy.

Auto manufacturing accounts for 6 percent of South Africa's GDP and 12 percent of its exports. The strike has also damaged the country's reputation as destination for foreign direct investment.

Earlier this week, BMW South Africa said it won't be able to invest any more money in South Africa.

Financial analysts say that's a sign BMW has simply had enough.

Business Day Editor Peter Bruce said his newspaper published a front page editorial on the economy today because "there's a worry".

"It's very dangerous for South Africa because we're borrowing money from overseas in a way, to pay people's salaries that are on government payroll."

He said government is continuing with what he calls an "assault on the private sector".